March 2003 Archives

Shadowbane Review

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Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Wolfpack Studios

Platform: PC
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Pentium III 700 MHz, 128 MB RAM (realistically, start thinking about that upgrade to 512 MB RAM), 32 MB Open GL 3D video card, 1.5 GB HD space, internet connection

Shadowbane marks the latest entry into the world of massively multiplayer, persistent world gaming. Sharing the medieval fantasy setting of most other games in the game, the hook here is a dog-eat-dog world of every player and every guild for itself. After a bit of newbie leveling, any player may attack any other player. To survive, you'll need to join a guild. Strong guilds may build cities, and other guilds may form alliances to create an elaborate network of nationhood. It's been a long time in the making, but the time has finally arrived to "play to crush."

It's still early in the history of Shadowbane – player cities are just now springing up, and widespread guild vs. guild combat awaits consolidation and strength-gathering. Although there are some maxed-out characters running around, those who have stopped to shower since launch are still in the middle ranks at most. I've been playing on the Deception fragment and have built several characters, the highest presently at level 25.

Harbinger Review

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Publisher: DreamCatcher Interactive
Developer: Silverback Entertainment

Platform: PC
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Pentium III 500 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 3D video card, 650 MB HD space, 4x CD ROM

The Harbinger is a massive slave ship that wanders the galaxy in search of worlds to exploit. A labrynthine agglomeration of metal and technology, linked by teleportation devices called umbilicals, the Harbinger is home to entire species and ecosystems within the confines of its hull. Humans may be the Harbinger's oldest residents, dating back to the ships humble origin as a census vessel, but the Vantir are the dominant force on the ship thanks to the Overlord and his vicious Silverbacks – powerful gorilla-like machines of war. The Vantir are complex, self-organizing colonies of simple organisms, that bind themselves into bipedal power armor to dominate the Harbinger.

The Vantir control the Harbinger militarily, and constructed a monetary system, an entity called the Ontis Corporation, to dominate Harbinger's makeshift economy. They even bind sentient beings into war machines called Gladiators for their own entertainment. This horrid oppression has led some of the residents of Harbinger to form raider communities that steal what they need, camping out in junctions lost to the Vantir. For all their cruelty and technological acumen, The Vantir lack direction or a culture of their own. Through this weakness, the Overlord exploits the Vantir to do his own will. Now, Harbinger has arrived at Aegis 9, another planet to be harvested. The Overlord has unleashed the insectoid Cimicidae to soften up the world while the Vantir gather resources to expand the Harbinger further. All this while, the Overlord is unaware of the disaffection in Torvus Junction, a small raider community that signals the approach of Harbinger's own doom.

Black & Bruised Review

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Publisher: Majesco
Developer: Digital Fiction

Platform: PlayStation 2, GameCube
Reviewed on GameCube

Black & Bruised, the latest game from developer Digital Fiction (keep an eye on them) and publisher Majesco, is the newest contender in the boxing game arena. Stylistically unique, with cel-shaded graphics and over-the-top animated characters, B&B offers a fast paced, arcade boxing experience.

Publisher: Infogrames
Developer: Quicksilver

Platform: PC
Reviewed on PC

Windows System Requirements: Pentium II 300 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 8x CD-ROM, 800 MB HD space

"Twenty thousand Galactic Cycles have passed since a supernova annihilated the diverse, multi-species culture of Center One. Over a hundred million sentient beings are believed to have left Center One before its destruction, whether willingly or unwillingly. These exiles and travelers spread out across their arm of the galaxy, and planted the seeds from which many powerful spacefaring civilizations evolved." – Master of Orion III manual

Now, you can lead your species out of the dark ages of forced colonization into domination of the galaxy.

Publisher: Activision
Developer: K2

Platform: PlayStation 2
Reviewed on PlayStation 2

Veteran stealth assassin Rikimaru is joined by newbie ninja Ayame in the third installation of the stealth/action Tenchu series. Armed with a variety of weapons and a lifetime of training, two lone heroes must stop a madman from resurrecting an all powerful evil.

Publisher: ValuSoft (THQ)
Developer: Canopy Games

Platform: PC
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Pentium II 400 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 4x CD-ROM, 3D video card, 200 MB HD space, Windows 98 or more recent operating system

The universe! Vast beyond imagining, it contains everything that ever was, or ever will be. Scientists now know that all matter is made of atoms. To harness their power is to unleash the fury of the universe primeval. There in the desert southwest of America, scientists are tearing the fabric of reality with terrible results. But what unspeakable things may come from meddling with the forces from the dawn of creation? Beware! For mutations great and terrible are awakening from their atomic slumber! Can mankind combat forces from beyond space and time? Find out as you play I Was An Atomic Mutant! Taking B-Movie sensibilities to its software equivalent, Canopy Games' I Was An Atomic Mutant! is a well-produced and straightforward giant monster game, where the only real objective is to destroy, destroy, DESTROY!!! Four different gargantuan behemoths enjoy romps through the Southwest's scenic cities and military installations, as they grind them to a fine powder underneath their scaly, slimy feet.

Publisher: .400 Software Studios
Developer: .400 Software Studios

Platform: PC
Reviewed on PC

Windows System Requirements: Pentium II 400 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 8x CD-ROM, 16 MB 3D video card, 750 MB HD space

Are you one of those armchair coaches who'd love to see what it's like to manage a college basketball team? Are you positive that you have the eye for talent that would take your favorite team to the national championship? Then Tournament Dreams College Basketball was made for you. This accurate coaching simulation is not without its problems, but if you are willing to wade through the bugs, you'll be rewarded with a rich, realistic experience, with more statistics than you know what to do with. March Madness is just around the corner, so check out the demo of this game to see if you've got what it takes to battle toward the national championship.

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Electronic Arts

Platforms: PC, Xbox, PlayStation 2, GameCube and PlayStation
Reviewed on PlayStation 2

It's never just another year for Harry Potter at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As he enters his second year at the prestigious magical academy, he must attempt to keep the school and its students from catastrophe – all while keeping up in his classes and leading his House's Quidditch team to victory. He must identify the true heir of House Slytherin, who controls the ancient evil lying in the Chamber of Secrets. But even then, will he have the courage to face the immense power of He-who-shall-not-be-named?

Publisher: Majesco
Developer: Blade Interactive

Platform: PlayStation 2
Reviewed on PlayStation 2

Toe the starting line in a futuristic racing ship that defies gravity and hurtles you along at mind boggling speeds. When the racing is done, take a break and try your hand at designing your own custom racetracks with the in-game TrakEditor.

The Portable D.I.C.E.

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by Robert de los Reyes, Esq.

Two disparate events were held last week in Las Vegas. The "D.I.C.E. summit" is a series of lectures and panel discussions held one at a time in an auditorium in the Hard Rock Hotel. The individual segments range from paeans (to Syd Mead, Shigeru Miyamoto and Yu Suzuki) to design lessons, and war stories (David Jones, Chris Taylor and others) to business issues (Seamus Blackley, BioWare and a panel on digital delivery). The summit is a welcome event in a number of ways. It builds camaraderie and a sense of community in a way that, say, E3 is incapable of doing. Here, industry types gather to give away their secrets and share their experiences rather than hawk their wares. (Well, mostly.) The summit also marks an important stage of industry development – the industry is old enough to have stories and best practices to share, as well as heroes about whom songs of praise may be sung. The limited number of talks, consecutively presented, also encourages you to listen in on a topic you might otherwise give a miss. Who'd have thunk it, but the panel discussion on digital delivery was one of the liveliest of the talks of the summit. It was lively in part because half the panel was pitching its business products. That made for some less than totally objective speechifying, but it also gave the other half of the panel something to argue against. We almost had a "When Good Nerds Go Bad" video on our hands. While the DICE summit doesn't even come close to garnering the appeal for the average gamer that E3 does, it can boast a wonderful sense of safety and community for those who think digital delivery really is something worth getting worked up about.

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2003 listed from newest to oldest.

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